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Household Arsenic Filter

Filtration systems treat water by passing it through porous materials like sand, rock, and brick to remove and retain contaminants. For arsenic removal, these systems involve multiple filtration chambers containing media specially prepared to remove arsenic.

Implementation: The user pours water into the top bucket which is filled with river sand and a composite iron matrix. The sand filters coarse particles and imparts mechanical stability, while the composite iron matrix removes inorganic arsenic. The water then moves into a second bucket where is again is filtered through coarse river sand, then wood charcoal to remove organics, and finally through fine river sand and wet brick chips to remove fine particles and stabilize water flow. Clean water then flows from the second bucket into a water container.

What this treats: This system removes arsenic from water.

Benefits:
Effective removal of arsenic
Made with indigenous raw materials
Does not use chemicals to filtrate
Produces 50 liters of clean water per day for household use

Drawbacks:
Should not be relied upon for removing pathogens
User cannot independently determine if replacement is required.

Spotlight on use: Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, it is estimated that some 35-77 million people are at risk of drinking water naturally contaminated with arsenic. As a result, arsenic poisoning is widespread in Bangladesh, with continued exposure causing skin lesions, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

In early 2007, Dr. Abul Hussam was awarded the $1M Grainger Challenge Gold Award by the U.S. National Academy for Engineering for the development of the SONO filter, a household arsenic removal system that is manufactured and used in Bangladesh. This system was recognized by the NAE because it provided a low-cost, reliable, user-friendly, and environmentally stable system that removed arsenic using locally available materials and no electricity.

The other winners were Water for People’s community water treatment system (silver prize) and Proctor and Gamble’s PUR™ (bronze prize).

The community water treatment system is a packaged unit installed in the well head and largely used in West Bengal, India. Water is passed through a fixed-bed column of granular activated alumina or hybrid anion exchanger (HAIX) and then through graded gravel to remove particulates before it is safe to drink. The unit is currently being manufactured in India and can be maintained with very little training.

The PUR™ technology treats water with chemicals for disinfection, coagulation, and flocculation in a sachet that costs as much as an egg in Bangladesh. A single sachet can treat ten liters of water. After stirring the content of the sachet in the water for five minutes, the water is left standing for another five minutes to allow arsenic and other contaminants to separate. Water is then poured through a clean cloth to filter out the contaminants. After another 20 minutes to complete the disinfection process, the water is ready for drinking. The product water should be consumed within 24 hours.

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